Scheduled Monument

Risga, shell midden and related structures on SE side of islandSM7829

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: shell midden
Local Authority
NM 61109 59893
161109, 759893


The monument comprises a shell midden of early prehistoric date visible as a grass-covered mound, with associated hearths and possible structural remains.

The monument lies on a raised beach platform at the SE end of the island of Risga. It comprises a shell midden measuring at least 30m by 10m, first excavated in 1920-21 and more recently in 1993. During the 1920-21 excavation, a number of stone, bone and antler implements were recovered.

Artefacts recovered during the more recent excavation include flakes and blades of quartz, flint and bloodstone. A number of features were also uncovered in the midden, including a hearth, several pits, and stone-packed sub-circular foundation trenches which may represent the remains of structures.

Shell middens with associated artefactual assemblages such as this date to the Mesolithic or the very early Neolithic (around 4500-3500 BC). They were created through the gradual deposition of domestic refuse and are composed primarily of shells and bone, giving detailed insight into the diet of Mesolithic communities in Scotland.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material is likely to survive. It is irregular on plan, a maximum of about 57m due E-W by 50m N-S and bounded to the SE by high water mark and to the NW by a low rocky bluff, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our understanding of late Mesolithic settlement and economy. Although there have been two phases of excavation on the site, considerable deposits survive undisturbed.



RCAHMS records the monument as NM 65 NW 22.


Atkinson, Banks and Pollard, J. I. and T. (1993) 'Risga (Ardnamurchan parish): shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 45.

Cole, J. M. (1964) 'New aspects of the mesolithic settlement of South-West Scotland', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, Vol. 41, 82-3.

Cole, J. M. (1971) 'The early settlement of Scotland: excavation at Morton, Fife'. Proc Prehist Soc, Vol. 37, 2, 305.

Lacaille, A. D. (1954) The Stone Age in Scotland, London, 229-39.

Mercer, J. (1974) 'New C14 dates from the Isle of Jura, Argyll', Antiquity, Vol. 48, 65-6.

Sieveking, Longworth and Wilson, G de G, I. H. and K. E. (1976) Problems in economic and social archaeology, 376-7, 381.

Stevenson, R. D. (1978) Risga: The Mesolithic industry, (Unpublished B. Sc dissertation, Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow).

Jardine, W. G. (1971) 'Oronsay, shell midden', Discovery Excav Scot, 6.

Jardine, W. G. (1973) 'Oronsay, shell middens', Discovery Excav Scot, 9.

Renfrew, C. (ed.) (1974) British prehistory: a new outline London 91-2.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 28/06/2022 00:42